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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 30, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Port commissioners: arena threatens jobs, gambles with city money

The Port of Seattle Commission sent a strongly worded letter to Seattle Mayor McGinn today, urging the city to start over on the review process for a proposed sports arena in Sodo.

The Port has opposed the arena from the start, saying it would tangle traffic near the city’s seaport, threatening its competitive position and crowding out maritime and industrial businesses that support middle-class jobs in Seattle. The commission’s letter today is a reaction to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed arena.

“Not only are arena proponents risking Sodo’s full-time, middle class jobs, they are also gambling with city finances,” the letter says.

The Port claims that the city should have analyzed alternative sites for an arena, even though a private investment team led by Chris Hansen is only interested in the Sodo site near Safeco Field. The letter also says the traffic analysis in the report “lacks all credibility.” The letter urges the city to start the process over.

The letter is heavy on what has become a constant drumbeat from port commissioners: Sodo’s role in the local economy as the lynchpin for the urban middle class. “We must view this issue through the lens of the single largest challenge of our generation — the growth of middle-class jobs,” commissioners wrote.

So far, the city and county have essentially dismissed Port concerns about the arena, saying one arena can’t be to blame for transportation problems that have existed for decades in Sodo. The issue has further alienated the Port from other regional leaders at a time when the troubled Port could use the support of other governments.

The end of the letter included a nod toward the Port’s desire to work more closely with the city.

“The community we all represent is served by a cooperative relationship between the city and port,” it says. “We look forward to working with the city to promote SoDo as home to family-wage jobs in manufacturing and maritime industries.”

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: arena, Mayor Mike McGinn, Port of Seattle


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